And now we turn to a conversation between “American Joe” and “Middle Eastern Mo” exploring the question of “Muslim rage…”
JOE: Hey Mo, what is it with you people? Why so hypersensitive?
MO: Be riiiight with you, Joe; just helping my neighbor bury his wife and children…
JOE: Honor killing?
MO: Drone, actually…
JOE: No shit! Well let me look into that… If it turns out you’re right, my government might just have a few hundred dollars for your neighbor!
MO: Blood money?
JOE: Hey, it’s your fuckin’ tradition… But what about my question: Why the heck are Muslims so damn SENSITIVE about a little free speech?
MO: Well, there’s some problems with the premise of your question (like, we wish our grievances were limited to offensive speech), but to the extent that it’s true, you might begin your journey toward greater understanding by exploring a related question: why are African-Americans “so damn sensitive” about the N-word; or why are Jews “so damn sensitive” about the Holocaust; or why are Native Americans…
JOE: Whoa, whoa, whoa – we’re talking about Muslims, here! Not America and the West’s past, um…
MO: Youthful indiscretions?
JOE: Exactly. That stuff isn’t about our values — it’s not who the West is, what America stands for today. It’s ancient history!
MO: Ah, then perhaps you would be more comfortable discussing the current period: Did America not invade Iraq on a pack of lies, in violation of the Nuremberg Principles, leaving hundreds of thousands of innocents dead (quite possibly over a million)? And didn’t that war follow a decade where needlessly draconian American sanctions resulted in the deaths of 500,000-800,000 Iraqi children under the age of five (and countless, uncounted others)? And didn’t those 1990s sanctions follow the decade in which America elevated Saddam Hussein in the first place, in order to launch a war of aggression against post-Revolution Iran, resulting in the deaths of an estimated one million people? And then there are the recent wars of aggression launched against the people of south Lebanon and Gaza, the apartheid-state reality of Palestinians, the West’s backing of dictators and terrorists across the region…
JOE: Whoa, whoa — again, whoa! Slow down, there, Mo. I’m not familiar with this history.
MO: Of course not. You are an American.
JOE: What the hell is that supposed to mean??
MO: It means that whenever your country commits crimes against humanity, you blame the victim and proceed to go to sleep. The people you torture and murder, their survivors, the people of the nations you devastate and subject to terrorism and despotic rule, those whose resources you plunder — they are denied any legal recourse and, more often, any form of justice whatsoever.
JOE: It’s called “American Exceptionalism.”
MO: It’s called lawless predation founded on a double standard, and it’s nothing new in the world. Colonialist emperors and tyrants have always found such “exceptionalism” useful.
JOE: But HEY, this wasn’t supposed to be about us! This was supposed to be about you people and your hypersensitivity! You guys really hate that YouTube film, right? And those pornographic Mohammed cartoons?
MO: What’s to like? That said, the protests in Cairo and Libya were planned before the video even came out. Besides, most of the protests — and yes, the attacks, too — are inspired by the West’s genocidal conduct toward Muslims over the last century; the bigoted European cartoons and American hate-films are just the icing on the cake.
JOE: The resentment cake? Shouldn’t that be a grievance falafel or something?
MO: Sigh… My bad. I meant to say “the last straw” or something; forget the cake.
JOE: Alright, but I still don’t think Muslims share our values.
MO: Why? Because we continue to resist foreign domination? Because so many of us are angry about the crimes against humanity we’ve suffered at your hands? Because we’re willing to fight for our right to self-determination?
JOE: Uhhhhh, no. Because you, uh, don’t share our passion for our cherished liberal, Western values, like free speech and the right to peaceful assembly. The rule of law…
MO: Ah, yes, the West’s proud history (I’m sincere, now) of exalting democratic, liberal-humanist laws and traditions: habeas corpus, the right to confront one’s accuser, the right to a speedy trial, freedom of association, a free press, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, the right to be secure in one’s own person and effects, the rule of law…
JOE: Exactly! That stuff!
MO: Well, if you weren’t so busy mass-murdering Muslims and subsequently blaming the victim for his “hypersensitivity,” you might have noticed that America has spent the last decade obliterating all of those so-called “cherished values.” You might have protested as your last two presidents took a hatchet to the Bill of Rights and transformed America once and for all into some kind of Fourth Reich dictatorship of the .1%, with cameras everywhere, drones flying overhead, no more habeas corpus or Posse Comitatus, honest whistleblowers and journalists persecuted, peaceful protests violently dispersed, whole populations subject to unconstitutional targeting on the basis of their political affiliations or religious faith, and some Americans murdered outright (with no charges/trial) for exercising their right to free speech!
Now you tell me, which group of people seems more committed to self-determination, free speech/assembly, and the rule of law: the ones who scrapped their constitution at the first sign of trouble, or the ones who’ve been resisting the West’s despots for decades and have filled their streets with protest, sacrificing their lives (thousands snuffed out by the folks Washington backs) in order to fight for their right to self-determination?
JOE: …well, I’m maybe a little persuaded by your arguments — but did you have to go so rough on America? Your rhetoric is a tad sharp-elbowed, to say the least…
MO: Why so sensitive?